Sophie & Shamrock Saturday

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Sophie & Shamrock Saturday

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the pooches. But this time of year, there is a lot of hibernating going on…

I got the pooches these little dog beds around the holidays because they were on sale for around $10. Rob said they were too small. Technically, he was right. But the larger sizes started at $25/each. And I figured when they curl up into their little sleeping-dog-crescent-shapes…

It  took a long time to try to get Sham to get into his little bed. Training treats didn’t even really work. Until one day, I put the bed under my desk while I was working:

shamrock-bed-3He still loves the butterfly pillows his Auntie Sally gave them (pictured left), but now we’ve got little beds and pillows in the office, the living room and in the basement. Sham is a little protector (just ask Auntie Sally!) and needs to follow me nearly everywhere. He’ll have a place to sit no matter where I am… He might even fall asleep…

shamrock-bedMaybe one day, he’ll cover his eyes with his paws like The Jean does sometimes…

Happy Saturday!
Carrie

 

Friday 5: Books with Cool Covers & Strange Titles

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So it just works out this way… I have a few restos I’m sure my husband would like me to write-up, but I find books so much easier! No worries, I’ll get going back to those soon, hopefully… 😉

Here are 5 recent books I read… Some with cool covers, others with strange titles.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things
by Jenny Lawson 
(non-fiction; well, mostly) – worth a read/listen

furiously-happy

I think that this book helps shed a bit of the stigma of mental illness. Lawson is hilariously candid about things her life circumstances and experiences dealing with depression and anxiety; but also illustrates her difficulties and is serious about that. She shares her own personal coping mechanisms; but also reiterates that everyone is different and not every strategy will work for everyone nor all the time.

I like her over-the-top stories and sense of humor; but don’t be easily offended! She eloquently compares mental illness to other better-known diseases to create a better understanding and help break the stigma. At first, I found the author’s up-speak to be a bit difficult to listen to on the audiobook; but later realized that there would be no one better to narrate it! These are her words, thoughts and experiences… thus her excitement, candor and compassion shines through in just the right places.

I thought the cover of this book was just cute… but then you find out why it’s the cover of this book!

~

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion:
Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions
by Christopher K. Germer
 (non-fiction) – DNF

mindful-path

The author said that “This book will not be a lot of work.” I had to go back and look for the quote, because my memory thought he said, “This will not be hard. In fact, it’ll be easier than what you are doing now.” He did go on to state: “The hard work is actually behind you – fighting and resisting difficult feelings, blaming yourself for them and their causes.”

However, I did find this book to be difficult. Although I’m working on meditation a bit, I find quieting the mind very challenging. I had trouble with some of the exercises and felt overwhelmed… and I definitely wasn’t compassionate with myself about that! In any case, maybe it’s just not the right time for this book for me. This one might be better to purchase and work on little by little, rather than check it out from the library with the hopes of completing it when it’s due.

~

The Fox From His Lair
by Elizabeth Cadell
 (fiction) – worth a read

the-fox-from-his-lair

Truth be told, I picked up this book because the story is set in Portugal. Rob and I are thinking of spending our international vacation there this year. I did a search for guidebooks on Portugal on my library’s website and this book was one of the results. I hadn’t even realized it was written in the 60s until I picked it up. It even had its old check-out card and pocket still fastened on the inside cover!fox-lairThis book is categorized as “romantic suspense fiction”. I didn’t choose it because of that descriptions and would have never considered it a romance novel until maybe the very end. There is just so much more to this story. I think it transcends time, too! I really enjoyed it, although I’m not sure where the title comes in to play. And although the setting is just background, I still enjoyed reading about a location I may soon visit. I also love the cover of this book!

~

DIFFICULT WOMEN
by Roxane Gay (fiction, short stories) – worth a read

difficult-women

Although I am not a fan of the color pink, I just love this cover! Before I read the book, I read a review that the title was not quite fitting. I would have to agree. In this age of “nasty” women, I expected this book to be about women who may be considered difficult, in the sense that they are challenging the norm and making breakthroughs. I expected to be inspired, not having read anything really what this book was truly about.

Instead, it may be said that this is book is about women in difficult situations. It’s a collection of short stories about women. The writing is absolutely fantastic, though the stories are a bit disheartening and sad. I’d say it’s about women and abuse and twins and sex and baths and motherhood and Michigan. If there weren’t exactly parallels in the stories, there were certain elements that were similar.

I’m curious and looking forward to reading Gay’s other works.

 

~

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life
by Ann Patchett
 (non-fiction) – worth a read (especially if you are thinking about writing)

getaway-car

I don’t have a Kindle or any type of e-reader, but I do have the Kindle app downloaded on my phone. I don’t like reading on my phone very much at all, but I having a short or less-involved story available on that app at all times in case I end up in a line or waiting room somewhere and haven’t a book with me!

I thought this was a short story written by Patchett; but instead it’s a bit of a memoir. It’s kind of funny to read this having never read any of her books before. {I’m now reading Commonwealth.} While I don’t exactly understand the butterflies on her cover, the getaway car is in reference to her attempt as a novelist to escape a life of waitressing. It’s full of sensible advice to those aspiring to write; but also gives a look into the life of a novelist.

~

Do you choose books by their covers or titles?

What book do you think has had the best title or cover?

Cheers~
Carrie

What Valentine’s Day Means to Me

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For some, Valentine’s Day is a day to express your love to that special person in your life. This can be with romantic gestures, thoughtful gifts or over a nice meal.

For others, it is an even bigger, annoying reminder of their singlehood.

Some consider it just a Hallmark holiday that has been fabricated; so there is no reason to celebrate at all.

Some parents love to shower their kids with heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast or candy as a treat.

But often it’s just the pressure to find the right gift.

I’ve experienced Valentine’s Day in all of these ways.

My feelings about this holiday have run the gamut, despite the fact that I’ve had some perfectly loving, giddy, Hallmark-style ones.

When I started dating my husband Rob, I told him that we didn’t need to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I was at a point in my life where I felt that it was a holiday for men {yes, specifically men; how sexist of me!} who never did anything for their significant others throughout the year. He was surprised. He told his friends. They said I was lying, that I’d still expect something. But I meant it. And he respected my wishes.

That was 13 years ago.

Over the years, we tried to find ways to get around Valentine’s Day because we like to dine out and and Valentine’s Day is one of the the worsts days to do that. It’s such a bad value and the menus are often limited. Everything is overpriced!

Within the last couple of years though, I’ve almost started to regret my snubbing of cupid’s holiday. I thought a little romantic gesture would be nice. I didn’t want a grand ordeal, just something unexpected and special.

But none of that matters; because last year, things changed.

We were in a terrible rollover accident last February 14th that left us shaken and grateful to be alive. I still have flashbacks of the event and some anxiety driving and even riding along.

Today is our day that we thankful to be alive. To be grateful that we have each other. Instead of poo-pooing Valentine’s Day this year, do something nice for yourself or a loved one. Schedule a massage. Call a parent. Do one little thing for your spouse. Send flowers to a friend. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a today. Pick any day… any day that means something to you. Or better yet, any day when you are really feeling ALIVE and are grateful to be so.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

And guess what? Rob and I are going to indulge in one of the cheesy Valentine’s Day dinners tonight! In fact, last year, we were en route from IKEA to Burger Jones for lunch; but didn’t make it. We will get there this year for some burgers and a bottle of Dom.

Cheers~
Carrie

Soup!

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I’ve been a soup kick lately, if only because my husband is!

To be quite honest, I was just looking for a way to use up all my leftover ingredients from an Egg Roll Bowl recipe, I made out of the Skinnytaste Fast and Slow cookbook. I had a lot of bok choy and Napa cabbage to use! I found this Asian Chicken Soup recipe, but substituted my leftover pork from the Egg Roll Bowls. It was a winner in my book when it comes to using up leftover ingredients that I don’t want to waste!

soup

Asian Chicken Ground Pork Soup

And for the last of the cabbage I attempted to make this Healthy Chicken Ramen Bowl.

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Healthy Chicken Ramen Bowl

Okay, so that’s not a pretty picture. The egg didn’t come out soft-boiled like I’d expected; but I like hard-boiled eggs, so I didn’t mind! My chicken came out tough. But the broth was oh-so-flavorful!

Then more recently, after I broke one of my favorite beautiful bowls (WAH!) that you see in the photos above, I made this Swamp Soup.

swamp-soup

Swamp Soup

A more traditional Swamp Soup is made with andouille and collard greens; but Beth from Budget Bytes says she called it this because it just looks swampy with the spinach floating around in it. When Rob kept raving over this soup, it was a WIN for me. This means we’ve got a soup chock full of all the veggies we normally don’t get enough of and we can also control the sodium.

We used sharp cheddar instead of the Swiss and it was wonderful. This one is going into our recipe arsenal. I scaled the servings down to six instead of the suggested eight, but that may make too big of a bowl! I think I’d do the 8 servings next time and just freeze a bunch. It comes together really quickly, especially if you just chop all the veg the night before.

Since we’ve been making more soups lately, I liked Beth’s suggestion to freeze any leftover carrots or celery for future soups. I always end up with so many leftover carrots and celery stalks when I actually buy them for a specific dish. This sounds like such a simple and obvious solution; but to me, it’s genius.

Here are some other soups we are hoping to try in the coming weeks:

What is your favorite soup recipe? We’d love suggestions!

Cheers~
Carrie

5 Books I’ve Been Reading

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Yeah, one day I’ll get off the books on Fridays. It just seems this is where they fall… Here are the five latest books I’ve finished.

The Couple Next Door 
by Shari Lapena
 (fiction) – toss up

the-couple-next-door

I listened to the audio version of this book. I found the narrator’s voice a bit annoying; but really, it probably worked for the genre. It was entertaining, but not something I’d say is a must read that you need to go and check out immediately. I liked it enough to finish it, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it. Maybe reading over listening to this one would have been different for me.

~

Love Poems
by Nikki Giovanni
 (poetry) – worth a read if you like poetry

love-poems

As usual, unless it is a personal friend who has recommended a book, I can’t figure out where I got the idea to it. To be honest, I don’t always “get” poetry. Many of these poems seemed very personal to the author, too. So it almost felt like I was the odd one out. But, there were a few I really enjoyed. And sometimes, I imagined them being put to music and that made those seem a bit more enjoyable, too. Because isn’t that what songs are – poems set to music?

~

BossyPants
by Tina Fey
 (non-fiction) – worth a read/listen

bossy-pants

I love listening to comedians’ books on audio; so this was no different! It passed the time nicely on commute, Fey forcing me to laugh out loud more than once. I especially liked her section on photoshopping. She compares it to make-up, that we all want to see the best version of ourselves. And that magazines aren’t fooling anyone, so what’s the harm? The only one fooled is your 80-year-old grandma who thinks that really is Sarah Palin posing with a machine gun in an American flag bikini. Fey also predicts that we’ll one day be touching up all of our own photos of ourselves. This book was published in 2011. Um, yes, you were right, Tina. You were definitely right.

~

They May Not Mean To, But They Do
by Cathleen Schine
 (fiction) – worth a read

they-may-not-mean-to

This book is a work of art; but I had a hard time reading it – not because of style of writing or a lack of plot – but because of the content. I didn’t want to pick it up again and endure the lives of the characters. I didn’t want to feel what it’s like to age and or for your kids to mean well, but not really come through the way you might have hoped.

I read this book described somewhere as a “different kind of coming-of-age story”. Coming-of-old-age, that is. Although it is inevitable for us all, I don’t want to think what this will be like when my own parents and in-laws get to those stages, nor do I like thinking about what it will be like for me. Schine features both perspectives here. I was a bit overrun with emotions reading this.

~

The Dead
by James Joyce
 (fiction) –Hmmm…

the-dead

 

I don’t always do well with the classics or what feels like overly-flowery language to me. However, I think watching Downton Abbey helped set me up for something written in such times past. I’ve never read Joyce before and I’ve learned that this is actually the last short story in the book Dubliners. Although it was a fine story illustrating what may have been life during these times in Dublin, I wasn’t sure where it was going… and per the usual, I didn’t really think much of the ending. But an ending I love is quite rare.

~

Is there a book that was difficult for you to read, but you still enjoyed and appreciated it?

Cheers~
Carrie

Modist Brewing

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Happy Thirsty Thursday!

It’s been a while, but we finally hit a new {to us} brewery!

modist

We were unsure how to pronounce Modist Brewing, but we were schooled as we walked in the door.

modist-def

On this lovely weekend afternoon, we were able to pull up two stools to the bar. I knew very little about this brewery, except that I’d been hearing about it a lot as of late. I was surprised by the unique offerings!

modist-menu

Now you know I like something unique and a little special when I visit a brewery. On these occasions, I’m not one for an everyday IPA, porter or stout that I can get anywhere. I want something with character. But these combinations just seemed a bit off to me:

  • Oatmeal Pale Ale
  • Salted Caramel Lager
  • Juicy Hoppy Wheat Ale
  • Cold Press Coffee Lager
  • Oatmeal Wheat Stout

What the what?!modist-note

Okay, so this is what they do. Because I was really unsure of what direction to follow {I love salted caramel and coffee, but hate lagers; I like traditional wheats, but in a stout?!}, I had to ask for some recommendations.

modist-beer

Left to Right: Deviation 003 Oatmeal Wheat Stout, Wasteland Dark Rye “IPA”, Smoove Salted Caramel Lager, Wasteland Dark Rye “IPA”

In the end, I sampled the Deviation 003 Oatmeal Wheat Stout and the Wasteland Dark Rye “IPA” {why the IPA is in quotes, I have no idea}. Rob ordered the Smoove Salted Caramel Lager without tasting it. {I was surprised! He doesn’t like lagers either; but nothing salted caramel has ever sucked, has it?!} He thought he liked my sample of the Dark Rye “IPA”, so he ordered that instead and gave me the SC Lager because I couldn’t make up my mind. We weren’t in love. We weren’t even in like. We left the place with our glasses half-empty – maybe literally and figuratively.

I know it’s ingenious, even ballsy to want to try something different from the norm. But for us, these beers just didn’t sound good, nor did the ones we tasted really work.

Modist Brewing is in the North Loop area of Minneapolis. They are also proud of their teal floor {in the brewing area}.

Well, friends, we did the research for you. So we know we’ll be sticking to our usual-ish tour when our next out-of-town guests visit!

Have you had any strange beers lately?

Cheers~
Carrie

5 Incredible Experiences in the Twin Cities

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Not too long ago my wonderful Wineaux friend Katie, started a blog called Zen Life and Travel. Like me, she’s passionate about travel. She blogs about how to do so more often by accumulating points and miles and by living through experiences instead of things. She has lots of great tips that got me back to accumulating more miles so that we can go back to Australia next year!

I recently wrote a guest post for her blog on 5 Incredible Experiences in the Twin Cities.

Check it out. While there, be sure to sign up for Katie’s weekly newsletter for more tips and tricks!

Name one thing you recommend out-of-town guests to do when they visit.

Cheers~
Carrie